They say that in space no one can hear you scream, but the fanboys’ screams about fantasy vs. sci-fi are so passionate that you can hear them from space. Possibly through the Force. I’m not sure how it works, I’m not a physicist. I just know a lot about screaming.
The fantasy vs. sci-fi screams have made their way to board games in the form of Clank and…Clank in Space.
I could cut to the chase and just let you know that both board games are excellent and very popular. Clank has fantasy theming, with the twist that players are trying to be sneaky as they plunder for treasure, but if they make noise–CLANK!–it awakens a dragon attack.
Clank in Space is the science fiction follow-up that takes the same core mechanics with a few extra layers and an alien robot attack if noise is made.
The two board games are separated by theming but they share a core play style, which is that of “deck building.” Deck builders are an extremely popular type of game that was popularized with the now classic Dominion and its expansions.
Deck builders are simple but very strategic. In short, you start with a hand of pretty basics cards. But through your actions you slowly upgrade your cards, allowing more and greater actions to be taken. The concept is a simple one that also works across generations and among lots of gamers.
You need to get either Clank or Clank in Space for your board game library. It would be irresponsible of me not to share that. But what if you just want one? Which should you buy, Clank or Clank in Space?
Which should you buy, Clank or Clank in Space?
Unless you share your PIN with me, I don’t have access to your checking account, so the decision on how to spend your money is fully yours. But I’ll share a few thoughts that include my board game biases. By comparing and contrasting Clank and Clank in Space, I hope to help you make the decision for yourself.
Clank is simpler. Besides being the first and fantasy-themed, Clank is also simpler overall. Again, the core idea is the same for both games but Clank in Space has the options dialed up by about 15%.
For many, the added complexity of Clank in Space would make it the clear winner. Indeed, there is a bias toward more complicated games on the board game rankings at Board Game Geek. But for me, simpler is better.
One example is that Clank in Space adds factions to cards. It’s certainly interesting but it just becomes one more thing you need to account for as you use your turns to upgrade your cards. I can’t say that it makes it more fun though.
Clank plays faster. Clank in Space does allow more options and opportunities to upgrade your hand, but the downside is it makes individual turns last longer. Heck, even reading the cards of Clank in Space takes a little longer and slows the game down somewhat.
As a result, you can get a little bored in between turns in Clank in Space. The upside is these added layers allow a player to string together bigger turns, which can get you jazzed…if it’s your turn. Because the cynical truth is it simply isn’t a lot of fun to watch someone else take a 10 minute turn.
I’m biased toward conversation in board games. So, how are you? Are the kids doing well? I often board game with other couples, so I like to chat and catch up as we play.
You need to pay attention during Clank, but you really need to pay attention during Clank in Space. I share this bias because I realize that for many their hope isn’t to chat during the game, it’s to lean into the strategy. If that’s you, consider Clank in Space. Go for Clank if you want to play it just a bit more casual.
Clank in Space is more directive. The added layers add rules to Clank in Space. Like, you can’t do X thing unless you’ve done X thing first or are holding X thing.
In short, Clank in Space tells you ‘no’ more often. I don’t really like board games to tell me no, if I’m being frank. At one point I was trying to purchase a card in Clank in Space and after being “um actually(d)” by the rules about three times, I just threw up my hands and just took the first card where the numbers matched because I didn’t care enough to bother any more.
I want to end this where I started: both versions are great games and both are very popular. You can’t go wrong here.
If you want a game that’s a little slimmer and a little faster, then go with Clank, particularly if the fantasy theme is fun for you. If you typically enjoy games with some extra layers of strategy and you enjoy a science fiction theme, then go for Clank in Space.
Now, go forth quietly because as the games teach us, dragons and aliens are light sleepers. We don’t want to disturb them.